Martha is a delightful, energetic first-time mother who has enjoyed every aspect of being a breastfeeding mother. Learning how to differentiate active and deep sleep, Martha was able to help her baby, Molly, sleep through the night by six months of age. Thankfully, life is proving to be predictable again, and Molly has become a happy and fun-loving nine-month-old.
However, over the past two weeks Molly has started getting up several times at night. She breastfeeds at each awakening and is hard to settle back to sleep. She is even resistant to taking her cereal in the morning and generally seems in a grumpy mood. Molly’s behavior at nine month worries Martha, who wonders if she should give up breastfeeding.
The Science: Misunderstanding a baby’s body language . . .
An important surge in a baby’s cognitive ability takes place at around nine months of age. Parents will notice “social referencing,” when the baby will look to the parent for reassurance when encountering a new situation or person.
The development of “Object Permanance” means the child now knows that even when things go away, they still exist in the world. As a result children will seem heart-broken when their mother leaves the room, even briefly, or when their father drops them off at daycare. As we discussed before, a surge in a baby’s development causes disruption in a baby’s eating, sleeping, and general behavior. Parents who expect and understand these changes, can find effective ways to respond to a baby who is transitioning to the next level of development.
“Ah-Ha” Moment: How The HUG’s information helps this mother . . .
Martha is delighted to be reminded about her daughter’s devlopment, even if it means a week or so of more challenging behavior. This mother decides that she does not want to resume multiple nighttime feedings as her primary mode of comforting her baby. Instead, Martha responds to her daughter’s awakenings at night by assuming a somewhat “boring” affect. She goes to Molly when she wakes up, but now Martha glances to the side and does not engage in coversation. She gently helps Molly lie back down, pats her back, and then hands the baby her “Lovey” blanket (that has become a mainstay in their bedtime routine). Within a few days the daughter awakens briefly, stirs, and then reaches for her lovely and returns to sleep.
Breastfeeding tips for this week
Research continues to identify many important benefits of breastfeeding. Moreover, these benefits appear to be “dose related,” meaning that the longer a mother breastfeeds the more she and her baby benefit.
© HUG Your Baby 2018